Protect Your Money, Protect Yourself

Many people don’t know but this is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. As I have said in the past computer security is part of my job, it is my other passion if you will. I have talked about security in the past, but there is always more to share.

Our computers are becoming the centers of our financial universe. We automate everything, login to our accounts frequently, and monitor it all from single central place. Whether you use Mint, Yodlee, Quicken, or Budget Pulse the easiest way to your accounts and your money is through your computer.

This is a war and you are way behind, this my second post on security. Between the two of them you are well on your way to rocking out in relative safety.

Computer Management

You computer is like your car, or your home. Every now and then a problem will pop up that you didn’t know about before. The same thing happens with your PC or laptop. When problems come up that made it through debugging they need to be fixed. These problems can be minor, or the can be major security holes.

People actually get paid to do nothing but bang on software to find the holes, then develop a way to exploit that hole to take administrative control of your computer. For those of you who huff an puff everytime Microsoft releases a patch. I ask you to take an unpatched Windows XP machine and put on the internet unprotected. The firestorm that will ensue will be amazing. When a patch comes out, patch your machine. No reason to wait, you can’t possibly be doing anything that important.

Antivirus

This is one of my sticking points, antivirus is an extreme necessity, it is also an extreme pain in my, ahem. The problem with antivirus is it is resource intensive, most paid or free antivirus systems have an active scanning component which is resident in memory all the time. For the most part you are just going to have to suck this up. There is no way around it and you want to be sure you are running something for those instances where you click the wrong link. Through all my griping about it, it is worth it for the casual browser, it isn’t going to stop an determined attacker but will protect your from wild virus’.

Browser Choice

The browser you use to access the internet has a lot to do with your susceptibility to compromise and infection. Microsoft has the majority share of the browser market with IE. Because of this most hackers target vulnerabilities specific to IE. Just by switching to a browser like Chrome, Firefox or Safari you are cutting out a chunk of the browser attacks that are out there. I love Chrome because of its minimal interface and speed. I use it for accessing sites I know and frequent often. Random browsing always occurs in Firefox.

I use FireFox for random browsing because of one thing, and one thing only. No Script. No Script is a Firefox plugin which essentially blocks all scripts from running on a site unless I explicitly tell them they can. This will help to prevent zero day attacks that haven’t been patched. If you prevent them from running the code they can’t take control of your computer.

OS Choice

Most people don’t consider security as part of their OS choice, they only look at convenience. It is so much easier to just keep doing what you have always been doing then trying to change to something different. Typically Windows users don’t jump ship to Mac and vice versa. Even less utilized, but considerably more economical, is Linux.

The OS you operate is a big factor in your susceptibility to attack. The majority of computer exploits are for the Windows operating system, this isn’t to say the others┬ádon’t’ have their problems but why would anyone focus on something that has such a small market share.

So get out and get crackalacking on securing your PC and look for one more Cyber Security related post tomorrow.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 MLR October 7, 2009 at 11:27 am

For Antivirus I would recommend staying away from Norton and all those other memory intensive programs.

I use Avast and couldn’t be happier. Low memory footprint, quick updates, consistently rated top in class for stopping malicious code, and… FREE!

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2 toddriffic October 7, 2009 at 11:48 am

I like AVG for virus protection…it’s free and I’ve never had a virus with it.

Also, I think too many people use the password save features, which is ok for twitter, but you should NEVER use it for your money accounts. Write it down if you need, but LOCK IT UP!!

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3 kenyantykoon October 8, 2009 at 3:28 am

this is a very helpful post as this issue of computer security also disturbs me. i use macafee antivirus and firefox bowser and they seem to be working for me since i have never really been attacked- but i am also very paranoid about passwords and stuff

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